After raising more than $12,000 last year, Great Neck resident Erin Lipinsky has already broken his own fundraising record for the Town of North Hempstead’s Polar Plunge to take place on March 7.
The event, now in its 16th year of existence in North Hempstead, raises money for the athletes of Special Olympics New York.
“I do it for the kids,” Lipinsky said during a sitdown interview with Blank Slate Media. “Every year I want to do more to help out kids around the area.”
Lipinsky began raised money since 2016 when he got $4,000 in donations and has increased his fundraising totals each year since.
This year, he has already raised nearly $15,000 for this year’s event, which takes place at North Hempstead Beach Park.
Lipinsky was a Special Olympics athlete as a member of the Great Neck Spirits basketball team in prior years.
Though the team will not compete in this year’s competition, Lipinsky and Alert Fire Company’s Board of Directors Chairman Michael Green spoke on the importance of physical activity with special needs individuals.
“These kids need activities like sports and other physical activities to be incorporated in their lives,” Green said. “It makes their lives feel more normal and routine.”
Lipinsky said he has been expanding his outreach efforts beyond Great Neck to include Manhasset and Port Washington among other areas.
Green said there are very few stores that won’t display Lipinsky’s flyers and fundraising information.
“I’ve been a firefighter for more than 40 years and I know a lot of people,” Green said. “Whenever I’m at an event with Erin, he knows even more people than I do. He goes out and makes relations with members of communities throughout the town. It’s amazing to see how much he does for this cause.”
Lipinsky said utilizing local newspapers, public access television, and social media has aided in his fundraising efforts since his start five years ago.
With just over two weeks to go until the event, Lipinsky said he is making his final in-person rounds to local businesses and schools to try and surpass $15,000.
“I go around to schools, talk to the kids, and let them know about the event,” Lipinsky said.
“Erin was interviewed by North Shore TV, and he’s made more of an online presence this year compared to others,” Green said. “[Alert] members are pretty confident he’s going to get that $15,000 goal.”
In 2019, more than 6,000 plungers were part of the plunge season, raising over $1.5 million throughout New York. At the North Hempstead event, 350 participated, raising more than $50,000. All funds support Special Olympics New York’s programs and promote awareness of people living with intellectual disabilities in New York.
“So many people look forward to attending this event each year,” Town of North Hempstead Judi Bosworth said. “Not only does it support the services and outstanding programs provided by Special Olympics New York, but also allows everyone to have a little fun while doing so.”
Registration for the Polar Plunge runs from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. The plunge takes place at noon.
For more information on the event and ways to donate, visit https://www.specialolympics-ny.org/.